Raleigh NC – Disability Rights North Carolina is calling on state officials to provide necessary services to North Carolina’s children with complex needs, following an investigation that revealed an appalling lack of available mental health services, leading to long waits in emergency rooms, hospitalizations or placements hours away from home, and institutionalization out-of-state. One 11-year-old child was subjected to excessive doses of medication leading to physical harm. Another was subjected to restraints in a state hospital that led to bruising on his arms, legs and torso.

“These are not isolated cases. Sadly, they are examples of what happens every day to North Carolina children with complex needs,” said Vicki Smith, executive director of Disability Rights NC. “The state knows what to do, yet does not do it. Our children deserve better.” Smith will be accompanied at the news conference by at least one of the parents. Other parents will be available by telephone.

In all four cases, highlighted in a report about the investigation entitled, “Kids Caught in a Double Bind: North Carolina’s Failure to Care for Children with Dual Disabilities,” the children’s experiences would have been different if the State’s recently presented plan – the System of Care model – had been implemented. This plan requires community-based services be tried before more restrictive out-of-home placements. Funding cuts and a failure to hold the state’s Local Management Entities (LMEs) accountable make implementation of the System of Care model nearly impossible. The report will be available at the news conference.

Disability Rights NC calls for the State to hold the Local Management Entities accountable, ensure children with complex needs promptly receive medically necessary services, ensure that qualified providers are available throughout the State, and ensure that adequate residential services are available within the State.